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Effect of pandemic lockdowns on domestic violence rates in Minnesota mixed

Plus: St. Paul schools see significant enrollment drop; the Somali American vote in Minnesota; suit challenging mask mandate at polling places heard in court; and more.

Did pandemic lockdowns increase domestic violence in Minnesota? The Star Tribune’s Salma Loum looks at the numbers: “When Minnesota’s stay-at-home period started at the end of March, domestic violence advocates feared victims would be in greater danger, but may not seek help. … Data on police reports, requests for shelter and crisis hotline calls during the lockdown period and the weeks that followed paint a mixed picture, according to a Star Tribune analysis.”

St. Paul schools losing students. The Pioneer Press’ Josh Verges reports: “The coronavirus pandemic appears to be accelerating a long-running decline in enrollment for St. Paul Public Schools. … A preliminary count of 34,179 students through Tuesday is nearly 1,000 fewer than the district was projecting this fall and a decline of more than 6 percent from last fall. … It will be months before state data becomes available to show where those students went, but private schools have reported increased interest from families wanting face-to-face classes. The St. Paul district began the year with distance learning at all grades.”

An article in Foreign Policy looks at the influence of the Somali American vote in Minnesota. Allison Meakem writes: “Somali Americans — who identify as Black, Muslim, and immigrant for the most part — have felt targeted since the first days of the Trump administration, when the freshly minted commander in chief signed a travel ban against seven predominantly Muslim countries and effectively shut down the U.S. refugee program … As Trump enters the final stretch of his reelection campaign in a state that Republicans desperately want to flip in November, Somali Americans in the Twin Cities—ground zero for nationwide protests against racial injustice this summer—fear another Trump term could be a point of no return. A state that voted Democratic in 11 straight presidential elections is suddenly a battleground — making the politically engaged Somali American community a vital bloc four years after Trump won a basket of Midwestern states by razor-thin margins.

Executive order in court. The Pioneer Press’ Bill Salisbury reports:Minnesota voters who oppose Gov. Tim Walz’s mandate to wear face masks at polling places on Election Day got their virtual day in federal court Wednesday, and early indications are their challenge faces some obstacles. … The lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Voters Alliance seeks a restraining order against Walz to prevent enforcement of the mask order at the polls on Nov. 3. … In a video hearing before Federal District Judge Patrick Schiltz, the group’s attorney, Erick Kaardal, argued that the mask requirement violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional free speech rights, and it also conflicts with a state law, on the books since 1963, the makes it illegal to wear a mask in a public place. … But Schiltz said he interprets that rarely enforced law as applying only in cases where someone wears a disguise to conceal their identity while committing a crime. ‘It seems far fetched that someone would be prosecuted for wearing a mask to a polling place,’ he said.

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In other news…

Cereal killing:General Mills’ profit soars 23%, reflecting America’s stay-at-home lifestyle” [Star Tribune]

Signs of the apocalypse, part 34:Invasive vine unseen in U.S. in six decades discovered along Lake Wobegon Trail” [St. Cloud Times]

Op-ed in Teen Vogue from Minnesota Bernie Sanders delegate Rachel Zhang:The 2020 Election Has to Be a Story About Climate Change” [Teen Vogue]